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18th Group Army of the National Revolutionary Army
(Eighth Route Army)
Eighth Route Army fighting on the Futuyu Great Wall, Laiyuan, Hebei, 1938. Photograph by Sha Fei.
Country China
Allegiance Chinese Communist Party
Branch National Revolutionary Army
TypeRoute Army
Part ofCPC Central Military Commission
Nationalist Government Military Affairs Commission
Garrison/HQShansi and Shensi
ColorsGrey and White Uniform
MarchMilitary Anthem of the Eighth Route Army
EngagementsSecond Sino-Japanese War, Chinese Civil War
CommanderZhu De
Deputy CommanderPeng Dehuai
Arm badge, as Eighth Route Army
Arm badge, as 18th Group Army
Flag, as 18th Group Army
In July 1937, the Presidium of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party issued an order for the Chinese Red Army to reorganize into the National Revolutionary Army and stand by for the anti-Japanese front line.
Former site of the Eighth Route Army Office in Guilin.

The Eighth Route Army (simplified Chinese: 八路军; traditional Chinese: 八路軍; pinyin: Bālù-Jūn), officially known as the 18th Group Army of the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China, was a group army under the command of the Chinese Communist Party, nominally within the structure of the Chinese military headed by the Chinese Nationalist Party during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The Eighth Route Army was created from the Chinese Red Army on September 22, 1937, when the Chinese Communists and Chinese Nationalists formed the Second United Front against Japan at the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, as the Chinese theater was known in World War II. Together with the New Fourth Army, the Eighth Route Army formed the main Communist fighting force during the war and was commanded by Communist party leader Mao Zedong and general Zhu De. Though officially designated the 18th Group Army by the Nationalists, the unit was referred to by the Chinese Communists and Japanese military as the Eighth Route Army. The Eighth Route Army wore Nationalist uniforms and flew the flag of the Republic of China and waged mostly guerrilla war against the Japanese, collaborationist forces and, later in the war, other Nationalist forces. The unit was renamed the People's Liberation Army in 1947, after the end of World War II, as the Chinese Communists and Nationalists resumed the Chinese Civil War.


Chinese propaganda poster depicting the Eighth Route Army in Shanxi.

The Eighth Route Army consisted of three divisions (the 115th, which was commanded by Lin Biao, the 120th under He Long, and the 129th under Liu Bocheng). During World War II, the Eighth Route Army operated mostly in North China, infiltrating behind Japanese lines, to establish guerrilla bases in rural and remote areas. The main units of the Eighth Route Army were aided by local militias organized from the peasantry.

After its fall 1938 victory in the Battle of Wuhan, Japan advanced deep into Communist territory and redeployed 50,000 troops to the Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei Border Region.[1]: 122  Elements of the Eighth Route Army soon attacked the advancing Japanese, inflicting between 3,000 and 5,000 casualties and resulting in a Japanese retreat.[1]: 122 

The Communist Party's liaison offices in cities under Nationalist control such as Chongqing, Guilin and Dihua (Ürümqi) were called Eighth Route Army Offices.

Ethnic Koreans who fought in the Eighth Route Army later joined the Korean People's Army.



In August 1937, the Eighth Route Army had three divisions.

Division Commander Order of battle Commander Troop strength
115th Division Lin Biao (林彪) 343th Brigade Chen Guang (陈光) 15,000
344th Brigade Xu Haidong (徐海东)
Independent Regiment Yang Chengwu (杨成武)
120th Division He Long (贺龙) 358th Brigade Lu Dongsheng (卢冬升) 14,000
359th Brigade Chen Bojun (陈伯钧)
Teaching Regiment Peng Shaohui (彭绍辉)
129th Division Liu Bocheng (刘伯承) 385th Brigade Wang Hongkun (王宏坤) 13,000
386th Brigade Chen Geng (陈赓)
Teaching Regiment Zhang Xian (张贤)


In Winter 1940 the Eighth Route Army had increased to 400,000 soldiers.

Division Commander Order of battle Commander Troop strength
115th Division Chen Guang (陈光) 1st Teaching Brigade Peng Mingzhi (彭明治) 70,000
2nd Teaching Brigade Zeng Guohua (曾国华)
3rd Teaching Brigade
Western Shandong Military Region
Yang Yong (杨勇)
4th Teaching Brigade
Western Lake Military Region
Deng Keming (邓克明)
5th Teaching Brigade Liang Xingchu (梁兴初)
6th Teaching Brigade
Shandong and Hebei Military Region
Xing Renfu (邢仁甫)
Southern Shandong Military Region Zhang Guangzhong (张光中)
Shandong Column Zhang Jingwu (张经武) 1st Brigade Wang Jian'an (王建安) 51,000
2nd Brigade Sun Jixian (孙继先)
3rd Brigade Xu Shiyou (许世友)
5th Brigade Wu Kehua (吴克华)
1st Detachment Hu Qicai (胡奇才)
4th Detachment Zhao Jie (赵杰)
5th Detachment Wang Bin (王彬)
120th Division
Western and Northern Shanxi Military Region
He Long (贺龙) 1st Independent Brigade
4th Military Subarea
Gao Shiyi (高士一) 51,000
2nd Independent Brigade
2nd Military Subarea
Peng Shaohui (彭绍辉)
358th Brigade
3rd Military Subarea
Zhang Zongxun (张宗逊)
2nd Shanxi Youth Column
8th Military Subarea
Han Jun (韩钧)
Cavalry Detachment Yao Zhe (姚喆)
129th Division Liu Bocheng (刘伯承) Taihang Mountain Military Subarea Liu Bocheng (刘伯承) 56,000
386th Brigade
Taiyue Mountain Military Subarea
Chen Geng (陈赓)
Southern Hebei Military Subarea Chen Zaidao (陈再道)
Shanxi, Hebei and Chahaer Military Region Nie Rongzhen (聂荣臻) 1st Military Subarea Yang Chengwu (杨成武) 100,000
2nd Military Subarea Guo Tianmin (郭天民)
3rd Military Subarea Huang Yongsheng (黄永胜)
4th Military Subarea Xiong Botao (熊伯涛)
5th Military Subarea Deng Hua (邓华)
3rd Column
Middle Hebei Military Region
Lv Zhengcao (吕正操)
Advanced Detachment Xiao Ke (萧克)
Shaanxi Left Behind Corps Xiao Jinguang (肖劲光) 385th Brigade Wang Weizhou (王维舟) 22,600
359th Brigade Wang Zhen (王震)
1st Security Brigade Wen Niansheng (文年生)
Security Command Gao Gang (高岗)
Others 2nd Column
Hebei, Shandong and Henan Military Region
Yang Dezhi (杨得志) 50,000
4th Column Peng Xuefeng (彭雪枫)
5th Column Huang Kecheng (黄克诚)

See also


  1. ^ a b Opper, Marc (2020). People's Wars in China, Malaya, and Vietnam. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. doi:10.3998/mpub.11413902. ISBN 978-0-472-90125-8. JSTOR 10.3998/mpub.11413902.
Preceded byChinese Red Army Armed Wing of the Chinese Communist Party 25 August 1937-1 November 1948 with New Fourth Army12 October 1937-1 November 1948 Succeeded byPeople's Liberation Army